Towards the European Capital of Culture with sauna!

Virrat / Photo by Laura Vanzo

European Capital of Culture: International panel will decide the fate of Tampere


Will Tampere continue in the competition for the title of the European Capital of Culture 2026? It will be announced immediately after Midsummer. This is the so-called preselection stage. The final decision will come after the next phase in the summer of 2021.

Tampere, Oulu and Savonlinna are applying for the title of the European Capital of Culture in Finland for 2026. The meeting of the international jury will be held on June 23-24, 2020 in Helsinki. At the meeting the jury will hear the plans of the candidate cities and decide which cities will continue in the race for the next, decisive round.

Applications from cities will be read by a 12-member panel of independent European experts of arts and culture. The Finnish members of the jury are Riitta Vanhatalo, PhD, and Kai Amberla, M.Sc. Other members are Sylvia Amann, Jelle Burggraaff, Cristina Farinha, Paulina Florjanowicz, Beatriz Garcia, Dessislava Gavrilova, Alin Nica, Pierre Sauvageot, Jiří Suchánek and Agnieszka Wlazel.

The selection process will then continue with the panel’s visits to the cities in the future. The second meeting of the jury will take place in the summer of 2021, when the name of the European Capital of Culture 2026 will be announced.

The cities that will continue in the “race” will be announced at a press conference on Wednesday 24th June. at 2 pm Helsinki Central Library Oodi. Representatives of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the European Commission and the jury will be present. The event can be followed live online. Instructions can be found on the website of the Ministry of Education

The main theme is equality

Equality is the main theme in Tampere Region’s application for the European Capital of Culture 2026. With the help of the Capital of Culture, Tampere and Pirkanmaa want to become an international pioneer of equality and a promoter of equality in all its forms.

The cultural program outlined in the application is indicated by the sub-themes: More sauna! More edge! More village hopping! More play!

The application highlights, among other things, the sauna as a place of equal encounter. The sauna is also a symbol of a cultural space open to all. The rugged cultural heritage, history and countercultures are certainly involved. Village jumping refers to the special features of cities, municipalities and neighborhoods. The theme also highlights ecological short-distance tourism. The theme of Play refers to Tampere’s strengths in theater and hockey, for example, and emphasizes the importance of children and young people.

The core of the application is the draft of 2026 cultural program. The program draft was based on an open call, through which more than 700 cultural program proposals were received in the autumn of 2019. Key players in the cultural field have participated in program working groups to review proposals and further develop ideas.

The application is also based on numerous public events across Pirkanmaa. A survey has been conducted on the core themes.

The Pirkanmaa Capital of Culture application has been processed under the leadership of a bid team that worked in Tampere. The creative director of the search is Juha Hemanus.

The joint application includes 20 municipalities in addition to Tampere: Akaa, Hämeenkyrö, Ikaalinen, Kangasala, Kuhmoinen, Lempäälä, Mänttä-Vilppula, Nokia, Orivesi, Parkano, Pirkkala, Pälkäne, Ruovesi, Sastamala, Urjala, Valkeakoski, Vesilahti, Virrat.

The European Capital of Culture initiative is among the most widely known actions of the European Union. The event highlights the richness of the cultures of the Member States, emphasising their common features and strengthening cohesion among citizens.  

The city designated as the European Capital of Culture aims to increase the scope, diversity and European dimension of its cultural resources and to raise the city’s international profile.